Chris Spence, the disgraced former director of the Toronto District School Board, has embarked on a new venture: writing novels.
Dr. Spence will celebrate the release of SnowBall at a book launch in Toronto on Saturday.
The story is inspired by Jason Collins, the National Basketball Association player who revealed he was gay, Dr. Spence said. It follows the life of a character named Jake Bradley, a star point guard who deals with issues of race, gender and sexual orientation.
Dr. Spence said on Wednesday that the novel started as a screenplay, and he hopes it will one day inspire a film.
"Writing novels is something I have always had [an] interest in," Dr. Spence said.
Dr. Spence resigned as leader of Canada's largest school board in January, 2013, amid allegations of plagiarism. In the months after stepping down, he applied for the director job at two other public school boards. He was not offered the positions.
The accusations of plagiarism surfaced when a Toronto Star reader alerted the newspaper that an article written by Dr. Spence appeared to have been plagiarized. The Star investigated, and Dr. Spence confessed to copying the work of others in an opinion piece. That drew attention to his other work, including his blog at the TDSB, and his dissertation dating back to his time as a graduate student at the University of Toronto.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail in July, 2013, Dr. Spence said he accepted responsibility for the plagiarism that led to his departure from the TDSB. He also said his research assistants were partly to blame for the unattributed material. He said he came forward to selected media outlets at the time as part of a healing process, and to rebuild his reputation slowly and return to education.
Asked on Wednesday about returning to education, Dr. Spence responded: "I never left education. Just reading and teaching kids in a different way."
Dr. Spence was often described as an inspirational leader who had a natural ability to connect with students. He was wooed to the TDSB in 2009 from the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, where he was director. During his time at the TDSB, he proposed the idea of a boys' academy as part of a strategy to help struggling students, and he was a key advocate for the board's first Africentric school.
Dr. Spence said on Wednesday that he spends his days consulting and working on various projects. He said he plans to publish more novels.
"I hope SnowBall will further the conversation, research and investment in the subjects of mental health, racism and homophobia," he said.